Four Things That an Oregon Personal Injury Attorney Will Consider Before Accepting Your Case
An individual who has been involved in an accident may usually believe they have a good case for a personal injury claim against the other party. But sometimes an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Oregon may refuse to accept their case.
Here are four important considerations that may influence an attorney’s decision to accept or refuse a personal injury case.
#1: Circumstances that Led to the Accident
One of the first things that a skilled personal injury lawyer will evaluate is how exactly the accident occurred. According to Oregon law, a person can only be held financially accountable for another’s injuries if they were legally at fault for causing those injuries.
Oregon is a “fault” state for the most part. This means it must be proved that the other driver was legally at fault for the accident. In such case, they will have the responsibility to pay for all the damages that occurred in the accident.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will only pay up to the amount of insurance coverage. Beyond this, the at-fault driver will be personally responsible to pay the remainder damages.
In some cases, the other party against whom you want to file a claim could argue that you are partly to blame for the accident that led to your injuries.
A committed Oregon personal injury lawyer will try to assess whether you share some part of the liability because it will affect the amount of compensation you are likely to get from the other party.
In Oregon, the rule of “modified comparative negligence” applies in share fault personal injury cases. According to this rule, your compensation amount will be reduced in proportion to your fault. However, if your share of blame for the accident is more than 50 percent, you will not be able to collect anything from the at-fault party.
In other words, even if the other party had 49% responsibility for causing your injuries, while you were 51% responsible for it, you may not be eligible to receive any compensation. Therefore, your Oregon personal injury attorney will objectively evaluate whether you have a viable claim for compensation.
#2: The Nature and Extent of the Injuries
In a personal injury case, it is possible that the nature of injuries sustained by the victim is not serious enough to make a significant monetary claim for damages. The victim may naturally feel horrified by the possibility of a serious injury, and may say to the attorney: “I could have been killed.” However, under Oregon law, this in itself is not a sufficient argument to claim legal damages.
Sometimes the costs involved in collecting evidence and developing testimonies to prove the case may be higher than the potential compensation that may be expected.
The law in Oregon breaks down pain and suffering related to personal injury into categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. The economic damages will usually include:
- Medical expenses and rehab costs necessitated by the injury
- Loss of income arising due to the injury
- Damage or loss of property occurring due to the accident
Non-economic damages may include:
- Physical pain and mental pain and anguish
- Emotional suffering and stress
The Oregon personal injury lawyer will have to prove that the claimant’s pain and suffering occurred as a result of this accident.
However, there is no standard formula to calculate the degree of pain and suffering in a particular case. Individual experiences vary from one individual to another, and the loss suffered can be highly subjective.
To have a viable claim for personal injury in Oregon, you must have adequate testimonies and documentation to prove that your injuries are serious enough to cause significant pain and suffering.
#3: Economic Viability of Pursuing a Claim
A reliable personal injury lawyer in Oregon may take a case only on a contingency fee basis. This condition will compel them to consider the economic realities of the case with objectivity and make a business decision about accepting or refusing a case.
The attorney will factor in considerations such as the amount of time they may have to spend on the case and the out-of-pocket expenses they may have to bear to build the case. They will compare these estimated costs with the expected damages the client is likely to recover and the expected fee they are likely to earn.
The client and the attorney will both get personally invested in the case, and the entire effort must be worthwhile for both of them. Therefore, if the attorney is forthright and transparent in their approach about accepting or declining a personal injury case on a contingency fee basis, it benefits everyone involved.
#4: Time Limits on Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
The statute of limitations in Oregon for personal injury cases allows an injured person to file a lawsuit within two years from the date when the injury occurred. If a victim approaches an attorney with an old case when the two-year window has already court, chances are that the Oregon civil court system would refuse to hear the case.
The other party’s insurance company is not likely to take the claim seriously at such late stage because they would know that you have lost your right to compensation. In these types of circumstances, the attorney may refuse to accept the case.
Furthermore, under Oregon law, if the injury occurred due to the fault of a worker or agency of the state government of Oregon, the claim must be filed against the government within 180 days of the date of the injury.
Advantages of a Free Case Evaluation
A dedicated personal injury lawyer in Oregon will most offer a free case evaluation. This gives the victim an opportunity to determine whether they have a case to pursue a claim. The victim should be forthcoming about all the details related to the accident and their injuries, and should provide factual information as accurately as possible.
They should also carry all the records and documentation they have with them to their meeting with the lawyer. This could include a copy of the police report, copies of medical records and bills, photographs, list of witnesses, if any, and personal notes the victim may have made about the accident.
The victim should also preferably carry a list of questions that they want to ask from the lawyer during the meeting. An accomplished lawyer will address all their doubts and concerns by providing correct and adequate information, and give fair legal advice.
It is always in the victim’s benefit if they provide all the bare facts to the best of their knowledge. There is no advantage for them in going forward with a case that they are not likely to win. Therefore, the goal should be to obtain the most objective evaluation of the case from a competent Oregon personal injury attorney.
Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation
Dwyer Williams Cherkoss is the pre-eminent law firm in Oregon that puts your interest above any other considerations. The firm offers a 100% free case evaluation for personal injury cases in Oregon.